tv BBC World News PBS July 29, 2011 6:00pm-6:30pm PDT
what can we do for you? and now, bbc world news. >> no end to the u.s. debt standoff. the lower house of congress backs a republican bill, but the senate votes against. and a day of mourning in norway, as the first victims of last week's bombing and mass shooting are laid to rest. a power battle in turkey, as the top military leadership resigns in protest at the civilian government's actions. welcome to bbc news, broadcasting to our viewers on pbs in america and also around the globe. i'm debra mckenzie. coming up later for you, there are claims the ex-military commander of the libyan rebels was murdered by men from his own side.
>> hello, i'm debra mckenzie. we have breaking news now, as we know that the u.s. senate has rejected the bill to increase the nation's borrowing limit, and we have a news conference. we've got pictures of the setup of that news conference, which you can see on your screens now. nobody there at the moment. we are expecting harry reid, who's leader of the congress. just to bring you up to date, the congress, as i say, has voted against the republican bill, as we expected. the senate was voting against it. lawmakers in fact voted 59-41 against measures to raise the $14 trillion u.s. debt ceiling and allow washington to pay its debts. the bill had earlier been
passed by the house of representatives. the deadline for a deal on the debt is tuesday, august 2. well, let's move away from those live pictures of that expected news conference and join marcus george, our correspondent in washington. marcus, it was all expected. where do we go from here? >> yes, it was rather expected. the fact that the republican-led house passed the bill and the senate killed it barely an hour later. so where we go from here is that the senate, at some point, we will hear their plan and they will vote on their plan. we'll probably hear about that in this press conference, i would hope. after that i think it's down to a long weekend on chill, whereas congressmen and women will be boxing, trying to keep the deal done. >> i'm sorry, i'm going to interrupt you, because we're just going to that news
conference now. >> we've seen something we've seen in the senate, but this time the country's attention is focused on it, a filibuster to prevent us from moving forward on this legislation. the proposal i put forward was a compromise. we would have changed it more, but as i indicated on the floor, we had no one to negotiate with. the republican leader said he wouldn't negotiate with me. [phone ringing] i wonder whose that is. not mine. [laughter] >> your pizza's ready. [laughter] >> it really is the post possible time to be conducting a filibuster. they're forcing us to wait until sunday morning at 1:00
a.m. to have this vote. our economy hangs on the balance. and fort first time in the history of our country, unless there is a compromise or they accept my bill, we're headed for economic disaster. it's time for the republicans to step forward. there's been some movement today. as i indicated on the floor, i was supposed to have a meeting in my office this afternoon with some republicans, and that fell through. but we're told that the press picked up as they were walking into a conference. they had three republican senators who said they were interested in my bill. they're interested in a compromise. we marry a lot of happy talk about this -- hear a lot of happy talk about this, but they need to step forward. republicans are blocking their ability to compromise. they're refusing to negotiate with us, and all they do is talk, and that isn't enough to get it done. the house will hold an up ordown bill on my proposal. we should be allowed to do the same. that's all we're asking. it's time for us to be adults.
that's what the american people want. it's time to come together in a compromise. that's what the american people want and that's what we need to do. senator durbin? >> i'm sure you recall the speech that was given to the american people on monday night by speaker boehner. he talked about his bipartisan bill and he talked about the fact that he was going to pass it in the house of representatives. we waited for that on tuesday, again on wednesday, then on thursday, and finally today he passed it, but it wasn't bipartisan. all republican votes. not a single democratic vote. and a scant majority, $218, out of a 435-member house. when it came to the united states senate it was dead on arrival on a bipartisan basis. a bipartisan majority of senators, 59, voted to table the boehner proposal. and now we have a chance to reopen this conversation. and i can tell you there is a growing sentiment among
senators on both sides of the aisle to sit down and reach a reasonable compromise and to save our economy from the disaster that awaits us if we fail to extend this debt ceiling. what these senators on the republican side are waiting for is a permission slip from senator mcconnell. he told them to hold back till boehner had his chance. hold back until the boehner bill came to the floor. that's all history now. the american people want us to move forward. they want us to come up with a bipartisan approach that doesn't have us relive this scene that we've seen for the past week over and over and over again, like the old groundhog day movie. we want to get this done in a way so that we can say the economy is going to move forward with a certainty that we're going to have a debt ceiling extension and we are not going to jeopardize it with this problem of self-imposed political problems and wounds that can be avoided. it's a shame. we waited all day. this morning senator reid went
up to senator mcconnell on the floor and said, let's talk, let's work this out. nothing, nothing, all day long. not a word. and later, at the end of the day, a call from senator mcconnell, who said i'm not going to negotiate with you. that's unfortunate. the american people deserve better. and let me say one last thing -- if senator mcconnell would give us the same vote standard in the senate that was given to speaker boehner in the house, we could pass senator reid's proposal, a proposal which includes major elements suggested by senator mcconnell. but, no, they insist on a filibuster. he said 60 votes have become routine, routine because filibusters have become routine on the republican side of the aisle. it isn't what's necessary to enact in law that's so critical to the future of america. we're going to fight this filibuster and i hope in the end some republicans will cross over and join us and break this stalemate and come up with a bipartisan agreement. >> well, thank you.
you know, this morning at 10:00 a.m. on the floor of the senate, leader reid asked senator mcconnell to come negotiate. the door was open all day. nobody knocked, nobody walked in. and some said, well, speaker mcconnell wanted to wait until the house disposed of boehner. but after the boehner amendment was defeated in a telephone conversation with leader reid, i was sitting there, senator mcconnell still refused to negotiate. we will not solve this problem by standing there and folding our arms and saying, i am not talking to anybody. and the nation's future is at risk. republican senators -- i've talked to 10 today. they want to come to an agreement. but until senator mcconnell gives them the green light, nothing is going to happen.
and they get the vibes and perhaps the direct word, i don't know, from the republican leader, don't do anything. we all know in the senate we can't pass anything without a bipartisan agreement. we all know the senate is the only way out of this mess. you've seen the huge difficulties in the house, their inability to even tie their own shoes. and so it's up to the senate, and that means it's up to senator mcconnell to either negotiate himself or give permission to others to negotiate, so that we can finally come to a bipartisan agreement. the only game in town is the modified reid bill. it's a bill that has elements proposed by republicans, including senator mcconnell, it's a bill that has elements proposed by democrats, but it meets the strictures that both parties have laid out on our
side, that it must extend the debt ceiling beyond 2012, no short-term extension. that too much royals the market. on that side, no revenues, and as many cuts as increases in the debt ceiling. if they don't like it, even though it seems to have been a prescription drawn from their needs, what do they want as an alternative? they're very good at saying no. they're not very good at laying out a plan that can actually pass. and instead, what do they do? they just filibuster. they say you can't proceed to a bill and vote on it. they say that they are going to force us to delay and delay and delay until we get up to the deadline. the country's in crisis.
this is not a time for politics as usual. i think we have shown that we are willing to give significantly in their direction. we're still waiting for speaker mcconnell -- sorry, we're still waiting for leader mcconnell and speaker boehner to move even a little bit in our direction. >> we'll take a few questions. not many tonight. we're all a little tired. we'll have a long night and a longer night tomorrow. >> you read mcconnell's language. [inaudible] he was willing to have his own bill. wondering -- one thing you didn't do is you didn't add any triggers. there have been a lot of talks of [inaudible]
>> we have had -- we have a closet full of triggers that people have suggested literally, dozens of them. but even though they're good ideas, earlier this week, a few days ago, i was sitting talking to jack lou, office management budget, and rob neighbors, who we all know is such a good person. we talked for an hour and a half about different triggers. i came to the conclusion we were negotiating with ourselves. we can't get the republicans to agree to any trigger that involves revenue. we cannot. the american people know this, because they agree with us. we are not going to have cuts to more programs, more programs, and more programs, without some revenue. that is a line that we've drawn in the sand and we're going to stick to it. i spoke a couple of times tonight to leader pelosi. she agrees with me 100%. >> we're going to interrupt
that news conference now there with harry reid, leader of congress, taking questions. he was talking earlier at the beginning of the news conference about the procedure of filibustering, which is a procedure, of course, which extends time for legislature. and there was, of course, an interruption by a mobile phone. but he did talk of some movement and said that the democrats were interested in a compromise, and he then blamed republicans accusing them of just talking. marcus george is still with me in washington. marcus, they're still blaming each other, aren't they? >> yeah, very clearly so. you heard a lot of blame being placed on the republican senators therefore refusing to negotiate under mitch mcconnell, the minority leader in the senate. he said they refuse to negotiate and in fact all they're interested in doing is filibustering, effectively delaying proceedings so the
senate cannot actually vote on the democrat plan for a number -- at least another 24 hours or so, as we heard. harry reid talk of a long night tomorrow night. as you said, there's a wide gulf between the different plans, and there's still no compromise on the table. they appear to be edging closer. but, of course, the clock is ticking away. and we know that come tuesday, that the u.s. treasury will start to run out of cash. so on one hand we have the house of representatives who have passed a bill raising the debt ceiling, matched by about $900 billion in spending cuts. that would tie america over for the next six months. on the democrats side in the senate we have a much longer-term plan, 18 months or so, that would raise the debt ceiling beyond the next presidential election. so for about 18 months or so. and crucially, it would raise the debt ceiling by about $2.5 trillion to do that. so those are the positions.
where do we go now? it looks like it's going to be a very, very long weekend on congress, on capitol hill. there will be long hours. i think the american people, and more importantly, perhaps, the financial markets will be hoping, just hoping and prayer, that a deal can be done to stave off that -- what's being described and what's being seen as a catastrophic financial crisis come tuesday. >> marcus, many thanks indeed for that. marcus george live from washington. the first funerals for victims of norway's gun and bomb attacks have been held a week after the killings. one of the first was that of an 18-year-old iraqi kurd who came to norway as a refugee in 1996. hundreds of people have also attend add memorial service in oslo organized by the norwegian labour party. from oslo, richard galpin reports. >> the coffin containing the
body of an 18-year-old to be laid to rest. her family, originally from iraq, mourning the loss of a daughter who had been a leading light in the muslim community here. exactly a week ago she was shot dead along with more than 60 others attending a youth camp on an island. she had dreamt of becoming a politician. so many friends and relatives came to the funeral, but hundreds had to stand outside. >> she will be missed. the youth can use her as an example to go into politics or follow their dreams, because she was well on her way of becoming a perfect, perfect human being. >> and back here in oslo, it's
also been a day of remembrance for those killed exactly a week ago. besides the crowds gathered here at this ever-expanding sea of flowers, there have also been a number of poignant vents members of the governing labour party gathered for an emotional reunion. the party, the target of both attacks last friday, the summer camp on the island had been the youth wing. >> the prime minister said many of their finest young people were now dead. but in unity, he said we will manage to go on. as they mourned, the police took the man responsible for the atrocity, breivik, for a second round of questioning. but so far they have not found any evidence he was part of a network of extremists, as he
claims. and so far there's no sign his killing spree will deepen divisions within norwegian society. at today's funeral christians and muslims, immigrants and ethnic norwegians side by side, exactly what breivik wanted to prevent. richard galpin, bbc news in norway. >> the turkish prime minister has appointed a new head of ground forces shortly after the entire top military command resigned. they're reported to have stood down in protest at a number of trials of military officers. >> in a single stroke, all of the top brass in turkey has stepped down. the country's senior military commander, general isik kosaner, seen here alongside the prime minister was the first to resign followed by the heads of the country's navy, army and air force.
this, the first ever such mass resignation in the turkish military is the latest in an ongoing rift between the government and the country's powerful armed forces. the government says the secular military has been plotting a coup against the administration. the military officers in question say they resigned after 22 of their fellow officers were charged by the courts with trying to undermine the government. in any other circumstances such a power vacuum in a key nato member would cause alarm, but the prime minister moved quickly. in a statement he said the turk iraq armed forces would do their duty in a spirited unity and immediately named a successor to the head of the ground forces. >> on monday there will be a meeting of the supreme military council. this is a body composed of the president, prime minister, defense minister and the senior military commanders that determines promotions and demotions within the military
hierarchy. there has been a growing antagonistic relationship between the government and the senior military commanders. >> in washington the state department gave its immediate and unequivocal backing calling for the resignations an internal matter. but they hope the turkish government can steady the ship without alienating the commanders any further. >> let's get more on the -- that senate vote. joining us from washington to discuss the implications is the co-director of the center for economic and policy research. many thanks for joining us here on bbc news. how far in reality hersh how far are the two sides a-- how far are the two sides apart? >> they're not that far apart. i can't imagine that they won't reach an agreement. i mean, the united states is not going to default on its debt in any case. that's just absolutely not going to happen.
and it is possible they could go to the brink and then you'd see the stock market crash for a day or two, like what happened in 2008 over the tarp vofmente but that's really -- i think people are really overly alarmed about this. >> well, you say it's not going to happen, but there's no guarantee of that. and if this filibustering continues, there's all likelihood that come tuesday, there will will be no money left. >> well, it doesn't run out all at once, and there are other options. you know, there is the 14th amendment, obviously, the obama administration said that it isn't their opinion that they can simply continue to pay the debt without congress's authority. but they certainly could decide to do that. it isn't going to happen. i mean, it's not even -- obviously a nuclear war could happen as well next week, but i would put that around the same probability, really, that a real default takes place. i mean, not just something
happens for a day or so. >> in fact, it's the far left and the far right who are playing for time in the run-up to the election. that's what this is about, isn't it? >> i don't know that we have a far left that's involved in this at all. we definitely have a far right. i'd say it's more between the center right and the right. i mean, a kind of center left position would have been just to say, look, this is the debt ceiling. it's a technicality. it's been raised 70 times. we're not going to allow you to hold the government hostage over this. that's what i think kind of a center left president would have done. the president went along with this because he wanted to do some of the same things that the republicans wanted to do and kind of used it, i think, as an excuse for that. >> why didn't the president ask this two years ago, when he could have easily got it?
>> that's a good question. i think probably he didn't anticipate this kind of a fight. and as i said, i mean, he has been using this to -- and all sides have been using this. and, of course, the media, of course, to portray the debt -- you know, we don't really have a serious debt problem here. this isn't greece or ireland or even spain or italy. we're paying interest on a debt that amounts to 1.4% of our national income. that is small by any historical or international comparison, and we're decades away from having to worry about anything, if ever. so this is a completely manufactured thing, and i think there are people in both parties that want to use it to be able to do things that the electorate is very much against. >> doesn't it in fact harm the whole democratic process? i'm thinking of people from
around the world looking at this ping-pong going on and wondering what on earth where demcy has got to. >> it's not the way to run a country, there's no doubt about that, our government. but i think the worse damage that it's doing is to the public debate. you've got now the whole world, you know, convinced that the united states has some kind of big debt problem, and in fact, you know, people who are just getting their news from the major media, they would think that we're facing in the united states, that we have 9.2 unemployment and an extremely weak economy as you can see from the data that came out today, they associate that with the debt. in fact, it's quite the opposite. we didn't have even a deficit problem until the recession. so the deficit problem that we're facing right now in the short term is simply a result of the recession and the weak recovery, and in the long term, of course, it's our health care spending that drives the
long-term deficit, because we pay twice as much as other high-income countries per person. that is the medicare and medicaid. it's not a demographic problem or a spending problem, it's actually a health care cost problem. and the public is completely unaware of that from watching the news that they see. >> ok. there is a weak recovery, as you say, very quickly, the credit agencies may write down triple-a rating anyway, might they, yes or no? >> it's possible. i don't know how much that means anyway. again, investors will not see the creditworthiness of the united states much different a month from now or after such a write-down than they do today. look what happened in the 10-year treasury market. >> mark, i'm sorry, we have to interrupt you there. but thanks very much indeed for talking to us. the co-director of the center